can a company take back a verbal offer?

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New answer on Dec 30, 2022
9 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Dec 29, 2022

I got a verbal offer about a week ago for a summer job at a consulting firm. I accepted it right away as I want to work for that company. It’s quite a small firm. They said on the phone that they’ll ring up my contract with all the details. They still didn’t come back to me with the contract and i’m really embarrassed to ask. Is it possible that they take back the offer since they didn’t send the contract? or man I overlooking things?

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Rushabh
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replied on Dec 30, 2022
BCG Expert | #1 in Middle East | 100+ Mocks Delivered | IESE & NYU MBA | Ex-KPMG Dxb Consultant

Hello,

Here are my thoughts:

1) Any well-known firm will avoid as much as possible to take back any offers they have rolled out to avoid reputational damage

2) Having said that, given the incoming recession this year, the company may, in the worst case, postpone your start date to something not ideal, or even freeze your verbal offer indefinitely. 

3) You should definitely not be embarrassed to ask for your contract! 

4) Given the holiday season, maybe it's worth waiting until the end of the first week of January until you send a reminder.

Hope this helps!

Feel free to reach out to me directly if you need any help!

All the best :)

Rushabh

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Francesco
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replied on Dec 29, 2022
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

Congratulations on the offer! In terms of your question:

Q: I got a verbal offer about a week ago for a summer job at a consulting firm. They still didn’t come back to me with the contract and I’m really embarrassed to ask. Is it possible that they take back the offer since they didn’t send the contract?

I don’t think you have anything to worry about. Given this is a holiday period, it is totally possible that they have some delays. You can still ask in a polite way to HR when you should receive the contract.

I heard of a case when a consulting company withdrew a verbal offer. However that was during COVID, and the related uncertainty was the reason for the withdrawal. In a “normal” situation, it would extremely rare to happen, mainly due to:

  • Reputational issue
  • Alternatives (they could simply ask to postpone the internship)

Best,

Francesco

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Dennis
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replied on Dec 29, 2022
Seasoned project leader with 7+ years of consulting and recruiting experience in USA and Europe

If it was a week ago, then it was right before the holidays and the time when many consulting firms start their year-end shutdown. While it would have been nice of them to do a bit of expectation management by letting you know when they intend to send over the contract, it’s not surprising that you haven’t received anything yet given the time of year. Wait until the first week of January and then follow up if needed.

Good luck 

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Ian
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replied on Dec 30, 2022
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Hi there,

The short answer is yes.

A verbal offer doesn't mean anything…please please always make sure you have things in writing (and signed!).

Now, all that said, no need to be concerned yet. Just shoot them an email in the New Year and ask about the contract.

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Hagen
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replied on Dec 29, 2022
Ex-Bain and interviewer for 7+ years | >95% success rate | mentor and coach for 6+ years

Hi there,

This is indeed an interesting question which is probably relevant for a lot of users, thus I am happy to provide my perspective on it:

  • It's possible that the company has been busy and has not yet had the chance to send you the contract. It's also possible that there was a misunderstanding and the offer was not as solid as you thought. However, it's important to communicate with the company to clarify the status of the offer. It's better to ask and get a clear answer than to assume and potentially miss out on the opportunity.
  • It's completely normal to follow up on a job offer, and it's actually expected that you will do so. You can simply send an email or give the company a call to inquire about the status of the contract and the next steps. Be sure to express your enthusiasm for the opportunity and your willingness to work for the company.
  • It's also a good idea to ask about the timeline for receiving the contract and starting work. This will give you a better sense of what to expect and allow you to plan accordingly.
  • In summary, it's important to communicate with the company to clarify the status of the offer and to ensure that you are on the same page. It's always better to ask and get a clear answer than to assume and potentially miss out on the opportunity.

In case you want a more detailed discussion on what to do in your specific situation, please feel free to contact me directly.

Best,

Hagen

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Moritz
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replied on Dec 29, 2022
ex-McKinsey | Senior Interviewer & MBA Coach @ McKinsey | Personalized key-skill coaching |Blue-chip Strategy Lead

Hi there,

I wouldn't worry at this point. If they're small, they're probably not as organized as you might think and people are probably on PTO as well.

As for your hesitation, you should never feel embarrassed to engage in these conversations. You're excited to work for them, which should excite them. The contract is the foundation for making this win-win happen and someone has to push it.

My advice is to send them a friendly “Happy New Year” note and let them know how excited you are to work with them soon. The rest will sort itself out!

Hope this helps a bit. Best of luck!

Moritz

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Anonymous replied on Dec 29, 2022

I highly doubt they will take back the offer - just give them some time and, as many have said, feel free to follow up in the new year

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Udayan
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updated an answer on Dec 29, 2022
Top rated McKinsey Case & PEI coach/Multiple real offers/McKinsey EM in New York /6 years McKinsey recruiting experience

This is peak time for people to be away from work and with their family so it's not surprising you don't have a contract. Wait till Jan 10th before reaching back out for any updates. 

Udayan 

(edited)

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Maikol
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replied on Dec 30, 2022
BCG Project Leader | Former Bain, AlixPartner, and PE | INSEAD MBA | GMAT 780

It is the holiday season, so, it is quite normal.

It is quite unlikely firms take back an offer is just a few weeks. 

So, don't worry.

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Rushabh gave the best answer

Rushabh

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